UFC champion Max Holloway says challenger Brian Ortega lacks his credentials

TORONTO — UFC featherweight champion Max (Blessed) Holloway took aim at rival Brian (T-City) Ortega on Wednesday, saying the challenger lacks his credentials.

“He’s good, he’s a dangerous man,” the 27-year-old Hawaiian told the UFC 231 pre-fight news conference. ”Everybody’s keeps talking about Brian and this and that. (But) everything the guy did I did better.

“He’s on what, a six-fight win streak? I’ve got 12. He beat a champion. I beat two (Jose Aldo and Anthony Pettis). And I beat one of them (Aldo) twice. So at the end of the day the Blessed Express is going round in a circle. We’re lapping you, bro. And I’m younger than you.”

Asked for his response, Ortega, who is 9 1/2 months older, paused and said: “Sometimes the best response is no response.”

Said Holloway: “Sometimes you don’t have a response.”

“Someone is still delirious,” replied Ortega in what seemed a reference to Holloway’s health issues earlier this year.

The exchange was one of the few barbed moments of the news conference at the Winter Garden Theatre. Holloway, who has not fought since last December due to a series of ailments, presented UFC president Dana White with a red-and-white lei before sitting down next to his championship belt.

“It’s good to be back here. I love this city,” said White, before going to questions.

Ortega (14-0-0 with one no contest) arrived wearing a Burberry scarf, which the No. 1 contender from California elected to keep.

The two 145-pounders were originally slated to meet at UFC 226 in July, but Holloway was forced to withdraw at the last minute due to what was thought to be “concussion-like symptoms.”

An ankle injury had forced Holloway (19-3-0) out of a March bout against former lightweight champion Edgar at UFC 222. Ortega filled in for Holloway, winning by first-round TKO.

Holloway also missed out on a short-notice fight with current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in April (after Tony Ferguson withdrew with a knee injury), pulling out during his weight cut.

That track record has Ortega wondering. “How sure are we (the fight will go on as scheduled)? I can’t answer that,” he said.

But Ortega, later in the news conference, made a point of wishing Holloway well.

“At the end of the day, I really do care about your health and how you are and how you’re doing. I know you have a son,” he said turning to speak to Holloway on the dais. “I know we’re fighting, but I do hope you’re all right.”

“I pray for you, swear to God. And we’re going to give you guys a show you deserve,” he added.

Holloway has said he is fine now, although doctors don’t seem sure about exactly what was ailing him.

Holloway feels good in Canada. He won the interim title two years ago in Toronto, beating former lightweight title-holder Pettis at UFC 206. And his first main event was in Saskatoon — a win over Charles Oliveira on a Fight Night card in August 2015.

A Raptors fan, his one request in the buildup to the fight was that he get to see the Golden State Warriors when they played in Toronto last week. That led to photo-ops with Drake and Raptors GM Bobby Webster, also a Hawaii native.

He repeatedly called Toronto the 10th island at Wednesday’s news conference. Hawaii is made up of eight major islands. Holloway calls Las Vegas his ninth island and Toronto his 10th.

The news conference also featured women’s flyweight contenders Joanna Jedrzejczyk (15-2-0) and Valentina (Bullet) Shevchenko (15-3-0), who meet for the vacant title in the co-main event at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday.

“After my victory on Saturday, I will prove that I’m the GOAT of women’s MMA,” said Jedrzejczyk, referring to the greatest of all time.

“There is no way that I will leave this city without the belt,” countered Shevchenko.

Shevchenko, a native of Kyrgyzstan who fights out of Peru, beat Poland’s Jedrzejczyk three times a decade ago in Muay Thai competition.

Jedrzejczyk won the strawweight (115-pound) title at UFC 185 in March 2015 and defended it five times before losing a pair of fights to current title-holder Rose (Thug) Namajunas.

There are six Canadians on the 13-fight card, the first in Toronto in two years: Calgary featherweight (Mean) Hakeem Dawodu, Montreal lightweight Olivier (The Canadian Gangster) Aubin-Mercier, Toronto middleweight Elias (The Spartan) Theodorou, Winnipeg bantamweight Brad (Superman) Katona, welterweight Chad (The Disciple) Laprise of Chatham, Ont., and lightweight Jesse (The Bodysnatcher) Ronson of London, Ont.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

WATCH: UCP leader Jason Kenney makes stop in Red Deer

A rally was held in the north end of the city Saturday afternoon

Good-bye ice and snow, hello potholes on Red Deer roads

City workers will be spending 20 hours a day on various road repairs

Fog advisory in effect for Red Deer, central Alberta

Heavy fog is affecting visibility for central Alberta drivers Saturday morning. A… Continue reading

Climate change’s impact on outdoor hockey discussed in Red Deer

Red Deer River Watershed Alliance held a forum Friday at the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame

Collision between Red Deer transit bus and truck investigated by RCMP

No one on bus was hurt, truck driver had minor injuries

WATCH: Fashion show highlights Cree designers

The fashion show was part of a Samson Cree Nation conference on MMIW

Adele and Jennifer Lawrence whoop it up at NYC gay bar

NEW YORK — Bar patrons in New York’s Greenwich Village were in… Continue reading

Montreal priest stabbed during mass leaves hospital; suspect to be charged

MONTREAL — A Catholic priest who was stabbed as he was celebrating… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $35.7 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $35.7 million jackpot… Continue reading

New report details impact of proposed NS spaceport in event of explosion or fire

HALIFAX — The head of a company proposing to open Canada’s only… Continue reading

Quebec man convicted in Mafia-linked conspiracy deported to Italy

MONTREAL — Michele Torre, a Quebec man convicted in 1996 for his… Continue reading

Republican Karl Rove says conservatives need more than simplistic slogans

OTTAWA — Legendary Republican campaign strategist Karl Rove, known for his no-holds-barred… Continue reading

B.C. hospital’s use as shelter ‘clarion call’ about housing crisis, says mayor

The 10-bed regional hospital that serves the medical needs of 5,000 people… Continue reading

Puddle splashing: A rite of spring

Is there anything more fun than driving through water-filled potholes in the… Continue reading

Most Read